Before I left for the board meeting, I told Liz that there was no need for her to come to the meeting -- that the open session would be boring and that my dramatic move would come in closed session.
I had no way of knowing how wrong a prediction that would turn out to be. In what follows, I will use the same letters to denote individuals that I used here.
J had submitted a board member motion to rescind the September 14th motions and had specified that it be for open session. However, because the motion included a number of "Whereas" clauses that alluded, by extension, to matters that remain in closed session, C, on the advice of corporate counsel, moved the motion to closed session on the agenda.
At the outset of the meeting, J asked for a vote to change the agenda and move his motion into open session. Because two board members were late, the motion passed. I voted against it, and I have been pondering why. Mine was largely a strategic vote. I didn't want to tip my hand, especially not that early in the meeting.
Counting the adoption of the minutes, there were some 15 motions before we got to J's motion to rescind. I had earlier sent an email to J saying that if he really wanted the motion to pass, he needed my vote -- I even told him how to pare down the motion so that I would support it. When J introduced the motion, it was in the pared down form which has a stark simplicity. It was very clear what the issue before us was -- whether or not to rescind, period.
The first speaker was H. H is loud and he speaks his mind. One of the things he said was that to vote for this motion would be to state that we were wrong when we voted for the September 14th motions.
I was the second speaker . I said that, yes, voting for this motion would be to state that we were wrong and that was why I was going to vote for it. The harm we did to the coop by passing those motions far exceeds the harm done by the improper actions we were responding to.
Jaws dropped -- at least figuratively. One board member perceived my move as a personal attack, or at least he spoke in that way. Another (A) flat out told me that I was wrong and told me why.
I asked for, and got, permission to respond to the latter (A). I said I was not defending the actions that I still think were inappropriate, but that I have concluded that our response was excessive -- that an appropriate response would have been simple censure as it was when a majority of the board censured A last April for what we perceived as misuse of privileged information. I paraphrased the statement of Maimonides that I cited in Part One of this series.
any utterance (true or not) that might cause a person physical or monetary damage, or shame, humiliation, anguish or fear is prohibited(Obviously I was not as clear as I could have been. A heard me as saying he was wrong to have caused monetary damage to B. In fact my intent was to say that I am applying the Maimonides standard to myself, not to others.)
I said that under that standard even simple censure is prohibited, so I apply the law of double effect (an action that has both a good outcome and a bad outcome is permissible only if the good outcome outweighs the bad outcome.) Censuring is a lesser evil than condoning improper behavior and is thus the better choice
Which brings me to the question of why I did not suggest replacing the September 14th motions with a simple motion to censure. The short answer is I didn't think of it. In any case, I don't think it would have gotten enough votes to pass, and finally, at this late date, even that response to the "offense" is excessive.
During the discussion, C made a great point of the harm that was caused by the secrecy of the actions of the prior administration. In fact, we cured that harm, if indeed there was any, by electing new officers last May. I say "if there was any" harm because, while there was certainly a potential for harm if the situation had continued, it did not continue. As for any financial harm to the coop, I strongly doubt that the charge imposed on E is collectible; the other charges were purely symbolic and hence to my mind they not only "might cause" but their intent could only be to cause "shame, humiliation, [and] anguish" to the three. I do not presume to judge the motives of the others who voted for the September 14th motions, but I can judge my own -- and having judged, I now repudiate my vote in the only effective way possible -- by voting to rescind.
Five people voted along with me for J's motion to rescind. Based on prior votes, I differ with all of them on key issues, including the issue of whether anything improper took place last year. But they are my sisters and brothers and I have to love them as myself.
The five people who voted the other way are also my brothers and sisters and I have to love them too as myself.
It's lonely being the swing voter. I sometimes jokingly say that I'm the decider -- and that seems to be true on a number of questions.
At the end of the open session meeting last night, I heard some one who should know better say "The spin has started," in reaction to a statement of someone else.
Pray for the peace of Morningside.